Horse carriage companies, critics react to proposed change in tour ordinance

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The debate over horse carriages and the heat is heating up again after a proposed change in the horse carriage ordinance.

The change being proposed by the tourism commission would affect carriage tours in hot weather.

"This is a minor change and we will abide by it," said Mary Allis Edwards of Palmetto Carriage Works.

Under the proposed change, carriage tours can resume when the temperature is below 95 degrees or the heat index is below 110 degrees after 30 consecutive minutes from the first temperature reading.

As it stands now, there are two consecutive readings taken at least 15 minutes apart.

Carriage horse industry critics support the change.

"We support lengthening the time to 30 minutes so that the public can be assured that horses are rested enough before going out in that extreme heat," Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore said.

Edwards says the new addition to the law won't affect how she takes care of her animals.

"Our animal care, it's never changed, it's always the best, we've got the records to prove it," Edwards said. "What's most important to us is how the animals are doing and their internal temperature which we take after every tour. So this 95 degree thing, whether we go out after 30 minutes or whatever, it's really minimal."

"The fifteen minutes is important, the additional 15 minutes because the temperature does vary, especially when it's at those extremes," Elmore said.

Elmore says the goal is not to shut down the horse carriage industry, but to make sure the animals are treated well.

"And that's all that we have ever asked for is an improvement in working conditions and follow the law," Elmore said.

The tourism commission gave unanimous approval to the ordinance Wednesday.

It still must be approved by City Council.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.